Sunday, 4 December 2016

Rare Wheatears and Starlings (December 3-4)

Sunday 4 December. Having a free morning, Mean was looking at a dog, I decided to try for the Rose-coloured Starling in Crawley. I do not enjoy urban birding and my inclination was to ignore it but I'd not seen one in Britain since 2002 and photos made it look to be in an interesting transitional plumage. Forty-five minutes walking around Beachy Road having seen only 2 Coal Tits and a Mistle Thrush made me wonder if I would have been better off staying at home but others arrived and confirmed I was looking in the right area and soon after the bird flew into a tree in the back garden of number 12. Initial views were somewhat brief and obscured but after disappearing for ten minutes the bird flew back into the original tree by the road where it gave good unobstructed views. It was more impressive than I was expecting and when, ten minutes later, it dropped back out of sight I left well pleased to have made the effort.
Rose-coloured Starling in Crawley with an interesting mix of juvenile and adult feathers
I had seen a juvenile at Portland in December 1989 which I remembered as being rather tatty and singularly unimpressive. It was probably wet and the views were nowhere near as good these although this image doesn't show it at its best

if it stays it will be interesting to see its plumage develop
Saturday 3 December. John King and I went over to Norman's Bay to look for the male Desert Wheatear that had been in the area since Monday. A classy find for Chris Ball. Not having my usual days off during the week I hadn't had an earlier opportunity to go and was convinced it would be a 'Friday night splitter' but John told me the good news that it was already on the pager when we met outside Lewes at 08:00. We arrived and soon saw it feeding along a groyne and being watched by a small gathering. We watched it for three hours and although a strong easterly wind made viewing difficult at times we had excellent views, John greatly improving on those of his previous successful visit (he'd also had an early unsuccessful one). It was a stunning bird and for John well worth revisiting. Heavy swell due to the wind and a high tide, and at times bright sun made checking the scoter flock difficult although there did not appear to be any Velvets amongst the 50+ birds I saw well enough before they disappeared into a trough. We left well pleased with our wheatear views and called in at West Rise Marsh where a quick look on the main pool produced the Slavonian Grebe and Long-tailed Duck we had both seen previously. We continued onto the Cuckmere walking down the west side to view a large gull roost. There were at least 1500 large gulls but they were packed in quite close and nearer the river bank than where we were making most hard to see. At least we had the sun behind us and from a short way up a footpath managed to get out of the wind and gain enough height to look down on the gulls. We scanned the gulls for about 90 minutes picking out one, possibly two, first-winter Caspian Gulls (we saw one, half the flock flew around and dropped back and later we saw another bird that appeared quite similar. I also counted 8 Yellow-legged Gulls in one scan, 7 adults and a third-winter but we couldn't find any adult or near adult Caspians. A very enjoyable day somewhat diminished by my finding that since I'd last used it double yellow lines had been painted on the lay-by where I'd left my car and I'd collected a parking ticket. I'd not noticed the lines in the early morning gloom, although I hadn't really been with it as I also forgot to transfer my wellingtons to John car, not that we ended up needing them. What is the point of a lay-by if you can't park there at anytime?

early view of Desert Wheatear at Norman's Bay
I was very pleased it hadn't departed overnight
this and the next two images were taken as a burst and show it moving from the one side of the groyne to the other
either that or it was caught by an extra strong gust of wind

I had my most enjoyable views along the groyne but as the morning progressed it spent an increasing amount of time hunting from a perch
practising vertical landing, undercarriage down

it kept coming back to this perch which was great, except that most of my several hundred photos of it there look pretty similar

these were a bit different

the gull flock in the lower Cuckmere
rather distant, unfortunately 
Caspian Gull preening left of centre
features other than its very white head are barely discernible in these images

Friday, 2 December 2016

TRIP INDEX by year

TRIP INDEX – by year

The following lists chronological the foreign birding trips that I have done.  Also included are a few family trips to decent birding locations and some with Megan to France. In time I hope to 'blog' them all, and those that have been done are shown in bold with a link. All the older blogs use scanned slides (or digitised prints of varying quality). Some of the slides have degraded badly with age. Some blogs use photos take by those I was with (they are easy to tell as they are significantly better than mine). Most blogs are heavily reliant on my unreliable memories. They were initially done to find a 'home' for my old boxes of slides which I had not looked at for years. Doing these blogs has brought back many very happy memories, and a few sad ones - I’ve been very fortunate in having various like-minded friends, some no longer with us, whom I have usually been able to travel with.
Kagu, New Caledonia August 1998 (digitised print taken with an instamatic).  One of my all-time top 3 birds.  Giant Pitta (1987) and Wilson's Bird of Paradise (1993) are the others.
1974:  MAJORCA (October)
          brief mention in The 1970s: finding my feet - 1974 blog

1975:  CARMARGUE (May)

          included in The 1970s: Camargue, Shetland & Scillies in 1975 blog

1977:  MOROCCO (April)

             KENYA (December-January 1978)

1978:  THAILAND (December-January 1979)

1979:  ISRAEL (March/April)

            CANARIES (June/July)

             NEPAL (November-January 1980)

1980:  CANADA (May)

            THAILAND (December-January 1981)

1982: MALAYSIA (January/February)

            THAILAND (February)

            NEPAL (March/June)
          Jomson Trek

          Everest Trek

          Langtang Trek

            INDIA (June/July)


           VENEZUELA (December-February 1983)

1983:  KENYA (July/August)

1984:  PERU (July/August)

            BOTSWANA (December-January 1985) 


1985:  COSTA RICA (July/August)

1986:  AUSTRALIA (March/April)

           ECUADOR: July/August 1986

1987:  MALAYSIA (July/August) 

1988: THAILAND (March/April)
          BRAZIL (July/August)

1989:  ICELAND (June)               

1990:  ARGENTINA (August)

1991:  SOUTH AFRICA (August)

1992:  INDONESIA Sulawesi & Halmahera (August)

1993:  INDONESIA Irian Jaya (August)

1995:  MADAGASCAR (August)

1996:  PHILIPPINES (April)

            NEW ZEALAND (August)   

1997:  VIETNAM (March/April)     

1998:  AUSTRALIA & NEW CALEDONIA (July/August)


1999:  ECUADOR (August/September)


2000:  CHINA Quinghai (June)


           GAMBIA (November)

2002:  CHILE (April)

2003:  JAPAN (January)

           CAMEROON (April)

           PAPUA NEW GUINEA (June)

2005:  TEXAS (Aprill)

           INDONESIA Sumatra & West Java (July)

2006:  PAPUA NEW GUINEA (August)

2007:  INDIA Eaglenest (April)          

2008:  PHILIPPINES (April)

           NAMIBIA (July/August)

2009:  VIETNAM (April)

          Cat Tien & Da Lat plateau

2010:  CHINA (May/June)
          Shanghai (Spoon-billed Sandpiper), Wuishan, Fuzhou & Xiaolongmen

          Xi’an & Yangxian (Crested Ibis)

          Pingtai (Jankowski’s Bunting)

            UGANDA (June)
          Mbamba (Shoebill), Kibale (Green-breasted Pitta) & Bwindi (African Green Broadbill)

2011:  ETHIOPIA (February)

           TAIWAN (April/May)

2012:  TURKEY (June)


          Nemrut Dagi

          MALAYSIA Sarawak & Sabah (July/August)
          Kuching, Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley, Sepilok and Mount Kinabalu

          FRANCE Somme (September)

2013:  CORSICA (May)

            INDONESIA West Papua (August)

          FRANCE Normandie (September)

2014:  SPAIN Extremadura (April)

           COLOMBIA (July/August)
          FRANCE Brittany (September)

2015:  ECUADOR (January/February)
            ARIZONA (April/May)
            INDONESIA (August)
           FRANCE Somme (August/September)
           BRAZIL (September/October)

2016:  CALIFORNIA (January)
           MEXICO (February/March)
           NORWAY (May)
           FINLAND (May/June)
           JAPAN (June/July)
            FRANCE Somme (September)
           GHANA (October/November)
            being blogged